In an effort to improve their team defense, the Boston Red Sox are removing Enrique Hernández from the starting shortstop role and Triston Casas from the starting first base role, manager Alex Cora told reporters Tuesday (via The Athletic). Hernández will split his time between second base and center field, and Justin Turner will man first base.
"We need to be better on defense," Cora said (via The Athletic).
Cora's criticism, not his first this season, comes one day after Hernández bounced a throw to first base for his MLB-leading 14th error, and Casas did not cleanly field a chopper. Both plays were routine and would have been the final out of the inning, and allowed runs to score.
"I think overall as a group, we all think that we can do better," Casas told MLB.com after the game. "We're all professionals on this team, which is why we take losses like this so hard, because there were times that it was just a lapse of focus, to say the least. We have a good understanding of what we need to do to get back to playing the caliber of baseball that everybody deserves."
Utility man Pablo Reyes is in Tuesday's starting lineup at shortstop and is really the only shortstop alternative to Hernández on the roster. Second baseman Christian Arroyo came up through the minors as a shortstop and has played there sporadically in the big leagues. Yu Chang (wrist) is currently on a minor league rehab assignment and could be activated off the injured list soon, but was sidelined late last week with soreness in his hand.
The Red Sox intend to use Trevor Story at shortstop when he returns, though that is not imminent. and is in the early days of his throwing program. The Red Sox are targeting an August return for Story, so they're looking at another few weeks of patchwork shortstop solutions.
As for first base, Casas will not be sent to the minors, and will instead remain with the Red Sox and work on his defense behind the scenes. He is in Tuesday's lineup at DH with Turner manning first. Boston ranks dead last in baseball with minus-11 outs above average, and they rank near the bottom of the league with minus-17 defensive runs saved.
The Red Sox enter play Tuesday with a 33-34 record that has them in last place in the AL East. They have lost 14 of their last 21 games and are 4.5 games behind the third and final American League wild-card spot.